Day 1 of the 13th Annual 5-day SUP 11-City Tour
Indian Summer in Friesland. Can it be better than this?
In happy anticipation to a sunny day of paddling with southerly winds, all 130 paddlers prepared for their first 49 kilometers from Leeuwarden to Sloten.
Hugo Vernhout, Janneke Smits-Van Leeuwen and myself took off at 8 am picking up trash along the SUP 11 route; which takes a lot longer. The Tour paddlers took off at 8:30 and the competition categories did start in waves at 9:10. The first day is THE day to go hard and make a big difference with your competitor, so the vibe was fierce.
With the World Championships in Hungary, we unfortunately missed some of our elite paddlers like our 4 time champ Bruno Haselyo, but we were still blessed with plenty of strong paddlers who make it in our top 3.
With an increasing heat, I felt at home coming from Maui. But all day long it was tough. Some paddlers could handle, some were suffering and others ended up in the hospital, but thankfully everyone is OK. Another technical difficulty was one of the big bridges around Leeuwarden was broken. This created a huge detour for the organization boat and sleeping boats. It was also a big relieve they ended up in Sloten before dark. The Ultimate Challenge was appropriate today. Big props to the organization and Kiki Merkies handling everything like a champ. Let’s hope we got it all out of the way now.
The advantage of starting first and going slow being a trash picker is, that you get to see and interact with the entire fleet of paddlers passing by. First the Tour paddlers paddled by before the competitors started mixing in. Ella Oesterholt (Netherlands) and Tanja Ecker (Germany) were strong in the Open Ladies paddling in a train on the Zwette towards Sneek. They stayed together finishing equal first 6:13:49. Wietske Kuipers (Netherlands) was a little behind ending up 3rd in 6:43:38
Kjell De Bruyn (Belgium) and Joep van Bakel (Netherlands) passed us by with a little chat and smile. Joep ended up winning today in 5:20:03 with a close second place for Kjell 5:20:36 . Ricardo Haverschmidt (Netherlands) had a solid 3rd place all day finishing 5:42:38
By the Divas, Vicky Morales (Spain) got in first place with 7:12:21. Michel Keersmaekers-Michiels (Belgium) is boss in the Masters with 5:49:34. The Grand Divas ladies are powered up and fast as well. Tracy Cullinane (USA) is convinced first with 6:42:21. Mark Kruisheer (Netherlands) took the lead in the Grand Masters with a solid time 6:04:50. Then we have 2 teams who are part of the competition: Gazo Team 1 is in the lead with 7:35:29
Gazo Team Pro(ne) is in 2nd place 9:44:39 and this is a good intro for the Prone caterory.
It is the 6th year Prone Paddlers are mixed in with the Stand Up Paddlers.
The fleet of “proners” is growing every year and it is fun to see how some stand up paddlers make the switch and feel drawn to a different experience on the water.
Lotte Spaargaren won the Prone Ladies in 7:54:15 and overtook Bart Haveman by 4 seconds who is leading the Prone men.
The classic moments of the day were for sure ringing the first bell in IJLst and Sneek with the historic “Water toren” being the spectacular background. Or was it getting a cold coke from The Brutus with captain Ritske?
Previously years the mandatory resting post was in Sneek, so we did not need to ring the bell.
This year we introduce an earlier 1st Tour resting post in Scharnegoutum and a 2nd Tour resting post in Woudsend before the beautiful Slotermeer; the cherry on top after a day of paddling.
2 Resting posts was great for us today being able to refuel and refill our hydropacks in the Indian Summer Heat.
The Race stop was as usual in Sneek. It was a great decision of the organization the fanatic racers had their own space to purely focus on their race while the Tour peeps could cruise elsewhere.
The big reward of paddling hard 5 days, is being treated with 5 massages as well. While waiting for this much wanted help in recovering, the food trucks were supplying epic meals. It is one of the best things about the event; coming together as a group and sharing (battle)stories from the day.
The crew is amazing building the start, breaking down the starts. Building up the resting posts and breaking them down. Rebuilding SUP City again at the finish locations and breaking it down till after dark.
Then the Media crew and Race directing section keeps going some more on top of that…
Really! Things keep going past 11 pm, so everything is prepared tip top for day 2. Let’s see what happens then.
The forecast is good looks promising for Friesland.
Make sure to follow the tour via the LIVE GPS trackers. https://www.sup11citytour.com/livesup11/live-tracking/
Stay tuned and get a preview as Marije Elgersma will go LIVE at 8:50 on the SUP 11 facebook.